Chapter One - A Night to Remember

The beast came down upon him a third time, and his guard was this time kicked aside with almost no effort. His body was covered in wounds that spewed blood in a manner that suggested even if the Hollow did not personally finish him off, he would die of blood loss shortly after its departure, regardless. His sword, his Zanpakuto, was thrown from his grip and landed with a silent clatter to the ground somewhere to his left. He assumed it would have made a "clatter", but the adrenaline rushing through him had long since decided that hearing was unnecessary to ensure his survival. Blood coated his hair and obscured his vision, but he could feel the Hollow's claws in front of him as the beast reared up for what would undoubtedly be the final attack. He tried to move but his legs just didn't seem interested; try as he might he could not manage to lift himself from the kneeling position he found himself in. It was over.

A girl's voice pierced the silence; "Rise from the East, Taiyouken!". A wave of heat washed over the duel followed by a light so strong that Kai could see it even with his blood-covered eyelids still tightly shut. The next noise was a pained roar as the Hollow that had been on the fast track to an easy meal only moments before was burned into atoms where it stood. As soon as the wave of heat passed, and the death scream of the Hollow faded, Kai's consciousness followed. He fell forwards and hit the concrete with a dull thud. The girl, his saviour, she supposed, was at his side almost immediately. She checked for a pulse and found one, and shook her head as she surveyed his wounds. There was no way a Shinigami should have gotten into such a state over a Hollow as weak as that one. What else had happened here?

She retrieved the Shinigami's Zanpakuto from where it had fallen, feeling the momentary wave of pressure that comes from touching the personification of another's soul, and returned to his side to see what she could do while she waited for backup. She definitely did not recognise him; in fact, why was he not wearing his Shihakusho? Sure, he was in the real world, but it was clear as day that he wasn't in a Gigai, so why was he dressed like a human? Even she wore the Shihakusho in her Shinigami form; it wasn't a choice she made when she left her body. Come to think of it, wasn't this guy a little young to be a Shinigami? Could it be that he was like her? No way; the guys she talked to from Squad Twelve assured her that it was a once in a lifetime thing to see a Substitute Shinigami.

A Substitute Shinigami, she pondered. A human who held spiritual pressure so great that they manifested powers like a Shinigami for themselves. It was rare enough that someone had enough awareness to see spirits, plusses, she reminded herself... but to have enough spiritual power to actually gain any kind of power... it couldn't be...

A figure materialising beside her knelt form made her jump, shocked her out of her thoughts. She straightened and turned to face the advance guard of the group sent for pickup. She came face to face with a member of Squad Two's Patrol Corps, supposedly the Shinigami closest by when she had put out her call. The Shinigami, a man, met her gaze and smiled curtly under his headpiece, evidently forgetting that she couldn't see such a gesture. She suddenly realised how much she liked the Special Forces uniform compared to the regular Shinigami one, liking the "ninja" look it gave them. She suddenly realised that she had been staring while she was thinking, and snapped to attention.

"Liana Sorrel. Substitute Shinigami." She awaited a response patiently but got nothing more than a nod. Somewhat annoyed by this, she said "And you are...?" The man seemed to shuffle somewhat in place before answering "Second Squad. Patrol Corps..." Realising he was supposed to have given his name and that she still expected it, he added "My name's not important." She smiled at this. Good, a stiff. They were always more fun.

"Well, 'Not Important', I found this guy-" She pointed at the unconscious form of the boy, "-fighting a Hollow about five minutes ago; he was losing, so I killed it for him. He's stable." She walked 'Not Important' over to the body, and waited some kind of response, once again, getting none for her troubles. "Hey listen, "Not Important", -And yes, I am going to keep doing that until you give me a name- it's kinda rude not to answer someone who's talking to you; I'm doing you a favour by calling you out now so you don't have to take back a dead body when your lazy-ass patrol drags itself out of bed and finds him later, so let's try and be a little more professional, eh?" The man continued to ignore her after this, so she gave up.

It was a few minutes later when a patrol made up of members of the Second and Fourth Squads arrived to tend to the boy's wounds, and within another ten minutes they were gone again, having taken him with them. The only two figures left in the park as the sun began to rise were Liana and 'Not Important', and it was only after the others had left that he suddenly became willing to talk to her.

"The boy that you saved, he's special." He offered, almost indignantly. "Special? How, exactly?" She pressed. "I can't give you the details, but as far as you need to know..." He seemed to change his mind about whatever he was going to say, "...he's like you. He's another Substitute." He began to look around as though he had said too much, and made a move to leave. She stood in his way, but he ignored this and simply used his Shunpo to flash past her into the breaking dawn and home to Soul Society.

She glared after him for a moment, more than a little certain that she'd never have to deal with him again, but also almost wishing she'd get the chance just to be difficult. The thought was gone as quickly as it came, and pushing the events of the night to the back of her mind, she headed home, to her family... and her body.

He had been there in the shadows the whole night, not sure what to do. There was a part of him that made him want to run into the fray, tear the attacking Hollow to shreds, and then do the same to the boy, the Shinigami. The sight of the Hollow or the Shinigami, he was not sure which, brought up uncontrollable anger within him, and it was about to break loose when the girl, another Shinigami, arrived to help the boy. It was at this point that he took a moment to collect his thoughts and calm down; he could have ended the Hollow and the boy, but the girl was another matter. She was strong. She would be fun to play with...

Liana goes to school the morning after her rescue of the boy, only to find that there's a new transfer into her class! But things aren't quite as the seem; there is another, one slightly more familiar. To everyone, apparently. Next time: Chapter Two - Hollow Intent.

I realise that this chapter's fairly short, but I had an idea that I wanted to get started, and here it is. With any luck the story will all work out and I'll stick to writing it for long enough for it to develop into something worth reading. The next chapter will be up in a few days, and I would hope it will be quite a bit longer...